By Ned Hickson
As if we didn't have enough problems already, according to a report in the journal Science the human brain is getting bigger. In fact, from what I understand (based on my in-depth analysis of a five-word headline in the New York Post), there's a good chance yours may be outgrowing your skull right now. Signs this may be occurring include: vomiting, nausea, dizziness, frequent headaches and bleeding from the ears. If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, DO NOT PANIC! They may only be the side effects of your current FDA-approved medication for acid reflux.
Then again, your brain might have actually gotten bigger since you started reading this column. And not just because of the sheer quality of writing -- which is always a possibility (keeping in mind the same symptoms may apply.)
Before we go on, I should, as a responsible journalist, take a moment and actually read the article. In the meantime, I'd suggest applying equal amounts of pressure to both sides of your head, just to be safe.
...OK. Sorry -- false alarm.
After reading the article it has become clear the threat of spontaneous brain enlargement is actually very slim. In fact, the only documented case appeared in the National Inquirer, which reported that a young boy's head spontaneously grew three times its normal size during the Arkansas State Spelling Bee. Amazingly, nine-year-old Reggie Sims survived the incident and now lives in Southern California, where his oversized head goes virtually unnoticed. But for those of us living outside the Los Angeles basin, spontaneous head swelling remains extremely rare. However, researchers say the human brain is getting larger, albeit very slowly, through a process of evolution. At first, larger brains sounded like a good idea since bigger brains means a smarter gene pool, hence leading us toward a Utopian society free of want and suffering.
Or at least free from telemarketers.
The down side is that our great-great-great grandchildren could end up looking like one of those bigheaded aliens from a 50s science fiction movie. True, this could happen anyway -- possibly even in my own lifetime -- if I don't meticulously screen each one of my children's potential spouses. However, assuming neither my son nor daughter marries anyone whose head fits snugly into a standard tractor inner tube, there's still the matter of future generations to worry about. The journal Science article I read doesn't mention anything about other parts of the human anatomy growing in proportion along with our enormous brains -- which, as I'm sure many woman would attest, may in itself double the male IQ. Biologists tell us that any "improvement" in the human anatomy is the direct result of evolution's attempt to meet the changing needs of mankind. For example: Our opposable thumbs. This uniquely human trait distinguishes us from other primates, most notably through our ability to use all three holes in a bowling ball.
Following that line of thought, larger brains is likely the result of our need as a species to absorb and process more information at a younger age. This was evident last night, when my six-year-old son whipped my behind in PlayStation 2 football.
He cannot read.
He cannot understand the tactical decision making required for offensive line formations.
He doesn't even know how many yards are in a first down.
Yet he can complete a Hail Mary pass and run a bootleg while I -- with my larger and ultimately superior opposable thumbs -- push buttons and move toggles as my defensive line is left picking grass from its teeth. I can't say for sure if this has any connection to the evolutionary process. But if his head gets any bigger, I swear:
He's moving to California.
You can write to Ned Hickson at:
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.